The programme aimed to raise awareness of ecodesign and energy labelling and to empower civil society to contribute to market surveillance.
MarketWatch was a market surveillance programme supported by 16 partners across 11 European Union (EU) member states, primarily environmental and consumer NGOs. It was a three year long project which ended in March 2016. The aim was to raise awareness of ecodesign and energy labelling and to empower civil society to contribute to market surveillance, with the outcome to reduce the level of non-compliance.
Energy Saving Trust was the overall coordinator of the project. We also led the work that identified and mobilised hard testing capacities from consumer and civil society organisations to provide targeted data on compliance with ecodesign and energy labelling requirements.
MarketWatch was set up to help civil society organisations be more involved in market surveillance activities related to ecodesign and energy labelling. The project aimed to increase the level of compliance to ecodesign and energy labelling regulations in the EU market, so that energy savings from these policies are not lost.
The project included several specific activities and operations that civil society organisations can do, such as visiting shops and testing products to see if retailers and manufacturers properly implemented the requirements.
Over the three years, the project partners:
Raised awareness in the civil society community on the importance of the enforcement of regulations, as well as to centralise and share their practices.
Conducted large campaigns of verification of proper implementation by hundreds of retailers of the requirements through visits to physical and online shops.
Drew specific conclusions on suspicious products or brands by identifying and mobilising testing capacities of independent organisations, and brought additional findings to the limited number of official tests carried out by market surveillance authorities.
Stimulated and inspired civil society organisations, and showed they can, within their means, provide information to support the work of national legal authorities and create a more compelling climate of compliance.
Put pressure on suspicious cases and on those in the market that are not complying to the regulations, by using targeted and escalating means of communication.
By March 2016, the project consortium made the following recommendations:
More targeted and intelligence-led market surveillance testing activities is needed. Random testing is not the most efficient method of finding non-compliance.
More need for more guidance for retailers and manufacturers. The correct display of the energy label takes sustained and dedicated effort from a range of actors within a company or even a single retail store. MarketWatch has often seen a lack of knowledge or lack of understanding, rather than refusal or defiance. It quickly established that many retailers were happy to work with civil society organisations to improve their performance.
More targeted shop surveillance is needed. Dedicate more time to solve the problematic areas. Specialised retailers such as kitchen showrooms, smaller/independent retailers, and internet stores are the worst offenders.
Centralised leadership. MarketWatch has shown that directing 11 member state civil society organisations, and coordinating the work and actions from a central governing body, is an extremely effective way to share experiences, develop a best practice approach, and identify trends and patterns across Europe.
The project highlighted that all actors have a role to play in helping Europe meet its energy efficiency targets:
Manufacturers must accurately declare labels.
Retailers must display them correctly.
Market surveillance authorities must continue and increase their surveillance of labels.
Member states must encourage and support the purchasing of efficient products, and enforce the regulations.
Civil society organisations must maintain pressure on the actors and lend legitimacy and authenticity to the claims.
European Commission must put in place clear legislation that facilitates rigorous market surveillance.